I mentioned previously that Benji joined me for our first week flying solo this last week. Benji’s never lived in an apartment before, and honestly I haven’t lived in one for well over a decade.
As a result, we’re used to making noise levels appropriate to a single-family home. One day when Benji was here visiting, our downstairs neighbor came up and mentioned he could hear Benji’s running. We apologized and promised to try to keep it down.
Then during the week when Benji was gone, I walked across the house in my bike shoes — which do tend to be pretty noisy, with the stiff plastic soles and cleats — and within about 30 seconds the downstairs neighbor banged on the ceiling (I assume) to tell me to quiet down.
So when Benji arrived, we talked about “walking like a ninja” to try to keep the thumping noise to a minimum. (It seems that the sound insulation is okay; at least, we’ve gotten no complaints about verbal noise…yet.) I reminded him several times over the course of the week, too. I expect he’ll get better, but it takes practice. Plus, he has such poor awareness and control over his body that it’s really hard for him to even know what he’s doing, let alone know how to change it.
Even so, on Sunday morning, we were playing a game that did involve some running around.
The neighbor came up, irate, and all-out yelled at me about the unreasonableness of running above him at 7:45 am on Sunday (fair), and that Benji had started making noise at 6:00 (I can’t verify that; I didn’t hear anything, but Benji does get out of bed astonishingly loudly), and that we had two apartments below us and we were being utterly inconsiderate.
I abjectly apologized several times — it didn’t really stem the tsunami of complaints; once someone’s angry enough to stomp upstairs and pound furiously on the door and yell at a person, no apology will make a dent.
Honestly, I felt — I feel — terrible. I want to be a good neighbor, and I completely understand the frustration of being disturbed by neighbors. Some of the folks in the house next to ours have loud parties late at night and I would just lay there in bed wanting to throttle them. I’m sure that’s how our downstairs neighbor felt early on Sunday morning.
Even now, a couple days later, I still feel awful.
I wrote an apology note to both apartments below us. I wrote:
My name is Katie Ferguson, and my son and I live in the apartment above you. I wanted to apologize for any past or future disturbances we cause, and thank you for your patience as my son adapts to living in an apartment. Again, I’m sorry for any loudness, and I promise we are doing our best to be considerate of you now and in the future.
I left the note, along with a batch of brownies, outside each door below us. But I didn’t knock or talk to either set of residents, because I’m a coward who’s afraid of being yelled at even more.
Now I feel like I’m almost literally walking on eggshells. Every time my foot falls firmly, I cringe. Every time I put on my bike shoes, I worry. And I dread when Benji comes back next week and starts running, playing, and generally being a kid. Ten to one we see that irate neighbor again. We’ll definitely hear from him again, when he pounds on the ceiling after 30 seconds of running.
I want to be considerate and respectful and a good neighbor, but I can only quiet Benji down so much. He has to live here, too.
I feel pretty awful about it and I’m honestly not sure what to do, besides what I have done.